A south-west Victorian community group is worried a proposed broiler farm capable of housing 400,000 chickens will compromise a major river system.
- The proposal is for a broiler farm capable of housing 400,000 chickens
- An adviser to the company behind the plan says it addressed community concerns at a council meeting
- Locals worry run-off from the farm may impact nearby rivers, causing environmental harm and risking people’s health
Rokewood Livestock Farms has applied to the Golden Plains Shire Council for permission to build the broiler farm at Mount Mercer, 30 minutes south of Ballarat.
A group of local residents have formed the Shelford and District Environment and Amenity Alliance to oppose the farm on environmental grounds.
The group’s spokesperson, Carolyn Morton, said she was worried run-off from the farm could end up polluting the Barwon and Leigh Rivers.
“I’m not impressed, not impressed at all,” Mrs Morton said.
“Effluent washed into the Leigh River will not only impact the immediate catchment, but also the Barwon River, all the way down to Geelong.”
A broiler farm raises animals, generally chickens, specifically for human consumption.
The proposal outlines plans to build eight sheds that could accommodate up to 50,000 chickens each.
The farm would cost approximately $6 million to construct on a site currently used for cropping and livestock farming.
Community pooh-poohs effluent plan
The company’s permit application details plans to build the eight broiler sheds in a tunnel formation with “minimum ventilation”.
Attached planning reports revealed the broiler farm would only take up a small part of the existing land, with the balance of the block continuing to be used for cropping and livestock grazing.
A director of the consulting company assisting the broiler farm’s proponents, Jack Kraan, told the ABC the proponents were mindful of community concerns.
“We addressed the concerns of the community at a recent council meeting and do not wish to comment any further,” Mr Kraan said.
The Shelford and District Environment and Amenity Alliance, however, questioned the permit’s environmental plans, and aired concerns that major waterways might be at risk, due to the farm’s proximity to smaller estuaries.
”Chickens need good, clean water,” Mrs Morton said.
Mrs Morton said the site was a known floodplain that drained into the Leigh River.
“Run off … need to be considered,” she said.
“The Leigh River is a known recreational fishery. The Barwon River is a haven for water sports.
“Public safety and the hygiene of these waterways are closely intertwined.”
Golden Plains Shire Council will assess the proposal at its next meeting.
“The recently advertised planning permit application included information on the amount of water required by the proposed facility,” a council spokesperson said.
“Council understands the applicant has also lodged an application with Southern Rural Water.”
The permit is expected to be discussed at the shire’s August meeting.